It's only half-time, Arsene

Too many of you lot don’t get this round-up of the papers so here’s what happens. I scour the rags for Arsenal coverage and provide a daily dose of what is being said, good or bad. And now and again I add my own ha’penny’s worth. So please continue to take me to task but don’t bother rebuking me for bringing you what is being reported…it’s a case of shooting he messenger.
So, you can tell I am in a foul mood this morning, my fellow Sir Henry Norrisites and I am sure after watching that last night this finds you in a similarly fractious frame of mind. There can be no escaping the fact that Lucasz Fabianksi was culpable for the first goal and the blame for the second Porto strike should be equally shared by him and Sol Campbell. And the referee, of course. But the real question here is should Arsene Wenger shoulder the blame for this calamitous defeat?
Ultimately, we, the Arsenal, played this vital Champions League tie with a largely untried keeper at the top level and a 35-year-old centre-half acquired from Notts County. I know we didn’t have much choice given that Bill Gallas and Manu Almunia were injured but that just highlights the weakness of our squad. Don’t get me wrong, Sol did well and, of course, scored our goal. And Fabianksi made a couple of fine saves. But in the heat of the battle at this, the pinnacle of European competition, we fell short because of individual errors. And although it is easy to lay into Sol and the young Pole, AW picked the side. AW brought these players in. So it’s only right and proper that he takes some of the stick. And he gets plenty in the papers as you can imagine.
And is it me or did Cesc look absolutely furious when interviewed on TV post-match? It was comforting to see that defeat hurt him as much as it did us, but on the other hand his comments (reported later in this round-up) got me thinking about just how long he will put up with team-mates who aren’t up to it.
But, wait a minute, in the words of every silky-voiced, silver-haired TV anchor worth his expense account, ‘it’s only half-time’. That’s right, we are 2-1 down. Not 3-0. Not 4-1. 2 bleeding 1. Yes, we should have nicked a draw but we go into the second leg at the Emirates needing just a 1-0 win to go through. I am convinced that we can do Porto at home. Yes, they had their chances as well as the ones we presented them with, but with Alex Song, Gallas and Andrey Arshavin back  — and Bob Wilson in goal — who would bet against us progressing? Early goal, bit of confidence and the blunders in Portugal will be but a distant memory. Possibly.
Mistakes have been made but the bigger mistake would be not to learn from them. We’re not the finished article but we don’t have any other choice, as true Arsenal supporters at this stage of the season, other than to accept our frailties and get behind the men who wear that famous red and white. Remember, we are the Arsenal.
OK, I don’t want to alarm you but you need to know one thing before we go on: Fabianksi gets royally slaughtered in Her Majesty’s Press this morning so look away now if you can’t stomach reportage of the killing off of one so young
The Daily Mail’s headline tags Fabianksi a ‘blunderman’ and then quotes AW: ‘It was an accidental back pass. He kicked it back with a toe kick — the ball hit Sol — it has to be intentional. Then, with an indirect free-kick, if you allow a team to take it quickly five metres from goal, how can you defend that? It’s better than a penalty. I’ve never seen that and I’ve been in the game a long time. We were really disappointed that the referee allowed them to play a quick free-kick. That encourages players to be unfair. If you give the ball back, as Fabianski did, he touches it and they score. It’s difficult to understand, but maybe I’m not intelligent enough.’
The Sun sees AW concede the second goal came from a mistake. He said: “It was a massive mistake to allow Porto to take the free-kick. You go from a situation where there is no free-kick, to one taken quickly where there is no chance to defend. The ref gave them a goal.
“What can you do? I believe first of all it was an accidental back-pass. Sol kicked it back with a toe kick – the ball hit Sol, it was not on purpose. It has to be intentional to be a free-kick. Then, in an indirect free-kick, if you allow a team to take it quickly so near the goal, how can you defend that? It’s better than a penalty. I’ve never seen that and I’ve been in the game a long time. You cannot defend that, you cannot organise.”
Campbell said: “The ref was 20 yards away. And then from the free-kick he was blocking me from getting to the ball. It was a bit of a nightmare. He was blocking me and that gave them an advantage. It was quick thinking from them but what can I do – shove the ref out of the way?”
The Guardian says a furious AW accused the Swedish referee, Martin Hansson, of “giving Porto a goal” last night with the Frenchman incensed that Porto had been allowed to take a quick free-kick inside the Arsenal penalty area after ­Fabianski handled the ball. He inexplicably picked up Campbell’s back-pass – though AW disputed whether the defender’s touch had been deliberate – and, in his disappointment, had given Hansson the ball.
The referee duly handed it to Rúben Micael who touched it for Falcao to score, with AW describing that decision as “laughable”, though he overlooked the fact that Thierry Henry had taken a controversial quick free-kick to score against Chelsea at Highbury back in 2004 with Wenger’s blessing, says the paper.
The Mirror reports that Cesc blasted Arsenal’s ‘schoolboy defending’ after ‘blunder keeper’ Fabianski gifted Porto victory with two howlers. He said: ‘The goals were schoolboy goals. After the second one, we were too soft. We were not strong enough to stand up.
‘I have no complaints about the second goal. Maybe I would have done the same. When you let in goals like that, I’m sorry, you cannot go anywhere. What can you do? We have nothing to complain about. Sometimes we’re not strong enough to lift ourselves, and that’s what happened.”
The other papers continue in a similar manner and it doesn’t make pleasant reading. So impose a media blackout, switch off your phone and turn off the PC for a day or so and soon you’ll forget all of this ever happened. Won’t you?

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